Last thoughts on DH


In the first week of this program I compared the work of making digital scholarship to the action of creating a flower arrangement. I said that with arrangements, there is a great deal of grunt work that goes in to making a beautiful finished product, and that grunt work is often unseen. It is the end product that matters and it is for others to enjoy. I think that in many ways this stands true. I have been thinking this week especially about the public facing aspect of the digital humanities. I think that this especially changes it essentially from traditional scholarship. I’ve discussed this before in meetings and sessions, but traditional scholarship is often about allowing the maker to form themselves as a person. A liberal arts education is meant to allow experimentation and failure so that we can grow in knowledge and wisdom. This goes away a bit with digital scholarship. When you have something that must be ready to be viewed by others, you have less room for error, you have less room for experimentation, and you have less room for growth. Now, that being said, when you practice digital scholarship in an undergraduate setting, the chance for failure is a little bit more possible. This was many of our first tries in the digital field. And because of this, the pressure was slightly less to produce something perfect. Therefore, we were able to grow. Maybe not as much as we do with traditional scholarship in terms of ideas, but certainly through learning specific tools.

I think that the essential way in which my idea of digital humanities has changed since the beginning of the program is that I underestimated how much people would appreciate the work that I put into my project. When I compared it to making flower arrangements, I was thinking that people would dismiss the work that went into it because they just wanted to see it as a whole and beautiful. But everyone that I showed it to remarked that it looked like I had put so much work into it. Because everything is there and transparent, people are really able to see how much effort it took to create.

I think that I would also add now that the digital humanities are always about teaching. Because it is public facing, because you have to assume that the people who are viewing your project have never encountered the subject matter before, you must explain everything. You must have a teaching element. If you are more interested in ideas and furthering a particular premise rather than teaching, then having a digital project is probably not something that will work for you.

All in all, the digital humanities is a rejection of traditional scholarship in order to bring information to the public rather than keeping it in academic spheres. It comes in many forms, on many subjects. But it always tries to be revolutionary in this way.

Can anyone speak and publish?

When anyone can speak and publish, there is going to be a lot more work out there. Digital Humanities is a field in which, hypothetically, anyone who wants to is able to do research on their own, and put it out on the web for others to see. The article authored by Burdick et. all discusses this idea of what happens socially when the power of publishing does not belong to higher institutions. They posit this idealist picture of the world in which anyone who wants is able to contribute to the vast sea of knowledge in our society. Digital Humanities promises to take away the traditional modes whereby you must be in a University, and you must have grants etc., to be published. But I wonder if it’s really possible to get away from this.

This summer we were able to take this fellowship because we would be paid to do research. For many people, work without pay is not an option. And those who are paid to do research are people attached to universities. Furthermore, we went through extensive workshops in order to learn the digital tools that we used to create our projects. Would someone out from the confines of a university have this luxury? Of course, there are ways to research the tools and teach yourself, but it may be a little unrealistic to assume that someone would go to these lengths. The fact is, is that doing this research has been a privilege and one that has been afforded to me because I am a college student at an institution who cares about research.

I think when the authors write about the Digital Humanities opening up scholarship, it is more likely that this is the case for professors who don’t want to go through the process of publishing a paper on any given topic, or a student who wants to write a scholarly blog. But I don’t think that the DH has taken scholarship out of academics and institutions. Right now, it is difficult to have the time or the skillset without funding and teaching in order to create a digital project.

Ideally, someday there will be more of a chance for a digital project to be born without the help of a university or institution. Maybe someday technology will become so second nature that lack of experience will not hinder anyone. Then anyone will be able to create a digital project and put it out on the web for anyone to see. This reminds me of an idea that I write about in my project. The more stories we have from other people; the more chance we have to understand something other than ourselves. But sometimes, when there are so many stories, it becomes difficult for us to understand any cohesive narrative. We enjoy making categories and putting things into boxes. It will be a difficult task to recognize that boxes do not fit everything. If everyone has the ability to create and publish, then we will have a great deal of information that we attempt, probably unsuccessfully, to categorize. It will potentially challenge our entire view of humanity.

DH and Philosophy

One thing that I’ve struggled with throughout this project is how exactly to make it truly digital and yet at the same time make sure that it stays within the vein of Philosophy. I have attempted to make it make sense as a digital project, but there have been times when I wonder whether this is really necessary or not. I haven’t had any examples thus far of digital projects that are Philosophy oriented and so I often feel like I’m paving this road and trying to walk it at the same time.


Philosophical topics are very different from other humanities disciplines. History pulls from primary sources such as photographs, manuscripts, artifacts. Other disciplines pull from cultural practices that can be measured. But Philosophical musings come from ideas. These ideas are often grounded in real phenomena, but they are not often tangible objects that a person can see. How do you justify making a digital project out of ideas that you can’t see?


I chose to situate this project in the trends of the modern and postmodern eras because they are so based in cultural trends that are demonstrable. I chose to use student works from the college because I wanted to take these ideas and make them more concrete by giving real examples of the changes in thought. I have had to walk the line between History, English, and Philosophy this summer while ensuring that the end product would still be considered a Philosophy project.


There are a few things that I’ve done to hopefully make this the case. I have created the page for the Philosopher Bios in order to at least honor that these ideas show up in a strong way for philosophers. I have also attempted to focus on certain themes that I think are abstract enough to be philosophical. Lastly, I have put a great deal of time into my “Where are we now?” page because I know that the arguments I make here based on the self are contemporary and appropriate, yet at the same time asking questions about the nature of our lives. This is a question that I am confident is philosophical in nature. So while I don’t think that all of this project uses Philosophy, it is building up to a philosophical argument and therefore makes sense within the discipline.


My further question, however, is how many philosophical inquests should really be done through digital projects. Because, while I am confident that mine works as such, I haven’t quite figured out if this was the absolute best format for this project. I think that part of the discipline of Philosophy is about writing in order to build up an argument slowly. I recognize that this can easily be done without using an essay format, and in fact this is what my project does. I think that if anything, the reason this functions well as a digital project is because it provides more accessibility for ideas that are rarely very accessible. I am proud that my work provides relatively simple explanations for ideas that are difficult to grasp even at high levels. However, my remaining question is what kind of person would actually care to look? Are these ideas too specific, too niche, for someone who is not already a philosopher to care about? This is the part that I really question, and it makes it difficult to feel completely confident that my project can really make any difference.

#Transform DH and My Project

When I think about the transformative nature of my project, it is a bit difficult to see anything overtly transformative at the start. You have only to go to my philosopher bio page and scroll down to notice something a little disconcerting. All of the philosophers are white men. At first it may seem like there’s no way to bring about a transformative project when the ideas I’m using are based off of those of people steeped in the patriarchy, but I think that my project can be transformative in subtler ways.

Many of the ideas that these white male philosophers have are ones that most people would not encounter unless they were to take a course on them in a school. Of course you can find their ideas online, but often the writing is confusing and difficult to understand even for a scholar. One of the aims of my project is to avoid the scholarly type of writing that I so often encounter in my own research. I try to write the ideas in a way that makes sense. The ideas are still complex and may have to be ruminated on for a while, but at least it shouldn’t take reading it five times through to understand what’s going on.

I also chose to focus a great deal on certain publications that are not academically or scholarly inclined. They are protest publications, written by students who found that they did not fit in with the typical college academic. I will be talking about publications such as Black Awareness, EASTIT, Acid Express, and Junto. The first was a publication meant to discuss the experience of people of color both at Gettysburg and in the larger community. EASTIT was a publication that was very critical of the institution and aimed at un-clouding the idealistic minds of the first years. Acid Express was written to help the Gettysburg community understand the positive effects of mind-opening drugs. And Junto was a magazine that was put out by the Christian Association which often spoke of issues of social justice. These were not the mainstream publications put out and supported by the administration. Some of these publications were of concern for the higher up individuals in the college because the messages ran counter to all that the college was trying to teach. But the writers thought that their messages were important enough that they had to put them out into the world. Celebrating the bravery of these writers, (many of them anonymous) and discussing their words brings voice to communities outside the mainstream.

In the last section of my project, I use an online publication called SURGE. This is a contemporary website in which students share their stories and experiences on topics such as race, gender, sexuality, social justice etc. Many of the writers are anonymous, but they are all trying to further discussions of social justice and expose what is wrong in our society.

White male philosophers may have written about these ideas and spread them in their classrooms, but it was these marginalized groups that took these ideas and used them in a call to action to transform the world. My project is not about celebrating the philosophers. It is about taking those ideas out of the stuffy classroom and analyzing how they affected the real, living, breathing, changing world. It’s important as Digital Humanists to always think about where the ideas that we work with come from, how the white and patriarchal world has affected them, and what we can do to fight against it.

How do we fit in: Visualizations

On my website I have visualizations so far on the “understanding modernism and postmodernism page” under the “concepts” tab.  There are Google Ngram graphs and a timeline on that page. I also have one visualization so far on the page for the Mercury under the “student works” tab. It is a word map visualization.


Here’s the link to my website.


Questioning Digital Humanities

The Digital Humanities is a field that I have been introduced to and subsequently immersed in in very recent months. When I was first offered this fellowship, I was excited because it was a new aspect to my discipline, one that I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed to admit I was pursuing. After reading the article by Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, and David Golumbia, I realized where these feelings were coming from, and what exactly was so problematic within them. While there are aspects to their argument that I do not agree with, I think that it is very important to critique our experiences and our endeavors in order to ensure that we are practicing in the best ways that we can.
The concept of neoliberal education was one that I was unfamiliar with until reading the article “The Neoliberal Arts: How College Sold its Soul to the Market” by William Deresiewicz. But when I read the article, I understood it perfectly, because it is something that I have felt pushing against me for the entirety of my college career. As a philosophy major, I have often been asked “What are you going to do with that?” I have struggled with attempting to justify my search for knowledge because my path does not translate perfectly into a career. And I have known many peers who go through the bare minimum motions in order to receive the letter grade they want because they are in classes that they deem unimportant for their goals.

I felt calm and finally proud in telling people about my fellowship this summer. I didn’t worry about people’s reactions because the word ‘Digital’ signified it had inherent worth in our society. But I didn’t realize that I was complicit in devaluing my own Humanities work thus far.

But the flip side is this: The Digital Humanities are an amazing field in many ways regardless of whether or not they make humanities students more marketable. Simply because aspects of Digital Humanities question the integrity of traditional humanities does not mean that Digital Humanities is inherently problematic as a field. Of course there are great benefits to opening humanistic inquiry and ideas to the public. College is an institution that costs a great deal of money as so many know, and thus only a privileged few have access to its knowledge. The principles of openness and public facing are important ones that have challenged the closed off walls of universities, and many have responded by placing greater emphasis on the Digital Humanities.

In the end, we must stop pitting traditional humanities against Digital Humanities. They are in many ways entirely different fields. Whereas the Digital Humanities place great emphasis on teaching others, the traditional humanities place emphasis on developing the self. These are both important and worthwhile endeavors. Both areas can affect society greatly. The Digital Humanities will lend its ideas straight to the public, while the traditional humanities trickle down through the elite and eventually affect entire cultures. The postmodern movement was born in the office’s of professor’s in universities, yet it affected an entire nation for generations to come.

I will have to continue to think critically about these questions because I think they are of great importance. Through my own work in my classes and now here I have seen great value in both fields of humanities work. As Digital Humanists, I think it is important to understand we have the upper hand of progress. We need to think carefully about whether it is right or beneficial to use that upper hand to break down traditional humanities and usher in a new era.

A Community of Practice

When I thought of doing research this summer, the thought of community was not close to my mind. I pictured myself sitting alone somewhere doing work, not engaging a great deal with other people. When I got settled in this fellowship, I realized how important our community of practice really is. While there are a great many ways in which we still have to take responsibility for our own work, there are always people to catch us when we fall, and encourage us to move forward through our research.

Being thrown into living with the people that I’m working with this summer has taught me a great deal about valuing community. When we’re at the library doing our work, we inevitably come across frustrations in our research. But when we got home for the night, we are able to distress with people who are going through precisely the same thing. When I get excited by an idea, I know to go tell my fellow cohorts to test it out on them and get some feedback. Living and working with the same people creates a system of support that offers empathy in so many circumstances.

Of course, it is so helpful to have the research partners in the library as well. When we are able to interact with people who have been working in the DH field for longer than we have, we are able to hear their knowledge. The task set before me would be a daunting one if I did not have Clint and the rest of the librarians to offer guidance when I started to lose hope. I think in terms of the library, our sharing session on Friday really showcased the value of our community here. I had spoken to a few of my fellow students about feeling drained last week and struggling to stay motivated. A couple of us mentioned this in our session, and all the librarians agreed. Being apart of this community means that we are not alone but instead we are able to share our emotions and our thoughts with people who will support us.

Through our sessions we have met other people at Gettysburg doing DH work. It has been interesting to see their projects and the range. We have Kolbe fellows who are more straight humanities oriented than our cohort, yet they are able to incorporate digital aspects to their projects. Then we have the DTSF’s whose projects are in the technology field. They are not doing humanities per say, but they are a part of of our community because often they come to our sessions to learn beside us. There are also faulty members who participate in our sessions and engage in conversation with us about the nuances of Digital Humanities.

Lastly, we were able to meet the fellows at Bucknell last week. While I wasn’t able to talk to all of them extensively, I was able to talk to a boy named Craig about his project. He was studying the way that the media portrays mental health issues and I thought his project was fascinating. It spurred a conversation amongst my table about this issue in society. I think we were in some ways able to give Craig some ideas that he may explore in his research.

Research seems like a rather individual and lonely practice, but when it is Digital Humanities research, the principles ring true and call for the importance of collaboration and openness throughout the community.

Reflective Essay 2

I’ve chosen to critically evaluate Timeline JS because I think it’s an interesting tool that will be very useful for me but one that I will have to use very carefully. There are certain aspects of Timeline JS that seem very effective and well put together, but with everything created by humans there are inherent assumptions made that I must watch.

One of the best aspects of Timeline JS is that it is open source. This allows many people to use it and is not only a tool for the wealthy. When I looked on their website they also seemed to have impressive documentation. The instructions for use were straightforward and easy to understand. You could probably figure it out on your own if you had to. There was also a technical documentation section where they had further instructions. Lastly, there was a clear FAQ section just in case problems arose or there was still confusion on the part of the user. From their website it really seemed as though they wanted this tool to be accessible to all people of all technical abilities and make everything as easy as possible. This was further demonstrated by the fact that one only needs the website and excel to use this tool. They also made it clear that you are able to put many types of media in the timelines you create so it supports all different types of visuals and styles of presentation. There are many ways in which the creators of Timeline JS have attempted to be conscientious and create a good experience for their users.

Because of the nature of this tool, there are inherent assumptions that the makers have made. The first one that comes to my mind is the nature of time itself. Time is a human construct, and we use it to measure things to make more sense out of them. But what if these things are not measurable by time? When we use time for things like this, we often end up attempting to fit something into a box that perhaps shouldn’t be fit into a box. This is especially important to me because I am working with eras, which are by nature, time bound, and yet there is great disagreement as to what these boundaries are. Many people think that the modern and postmodern eras are not really measurable through time because their ideas endure past the era and came into being far before. We are attempting to measure the flux and change in people’s beliefs through time and yet that assumes that people’s beliefs are time bound in a way.

A tool like this is also difficult because when we have a timeline we are choosing which events to put in this timeline and inherent biases come along with those choices. Which markers in history are we choosing to use? Whose history are we using? When we place certain events next to each other, is there risk that we are creating the guise of correlation when in truth they may have not been related at all? The problem with timelines are that they create a certain narrative that we want to make by using a strong rhetorical device that can easily be manipulated negatively. We must be very careful to choose our markers carefully and to not introduce correlation where it does not exist.

Nevertheless, I will use this tool for my project because, while these terms are difficult to place in time, it does make them easier to understand. They are products of and influencers on the times in which they were situated and so placing them into those physical years and events in those years will help.

Project Charter

Project Title: Where do we fit in? Gettysburg College in the modern and postmodern.


Project Owner: Augusta Pendergast


Project Summary

This project is about looking at Gettysburg College student publications over the last century and attempting to understand how these works fit into the larger context of the modern and postmodern eras. It includes historical analysis as well as literary analysis while all the while coming from a philosophical perspective. It will also attempt to answer the question of where we stand now, whether we are still situated in the postmodern period or whether we have moved on to something new by looking at contemporary student works.


Research Questions:

  • How do Gettysburg College students fit into the larger periods of cultural history known as the modern and postmodern periods?
  • What trends are there in current student work and how do these relate to the postmodern period?


Scope: It will be an interactive website with explanations of terms as well as contextualizing those terms in the broader American history by using a timeline. It will have also analysis and annotations of student works from publications like the Mercury and the Gettysburgian as well as shorter run, student created platforms. Lastly, it will have a list of the philosophers that are significant to the modern and postmodern periods and their main ideas that relate to this topic.



  • Books about the postmodern period that also discuss the modern period
  • Book with philosophers and their specific ideas
  • Books about the history of the college to situate some of the student works
  • Student writings from the Mercury and Gettysburgian
  • Student publications not necessarily created by the college itself
  • Student made pamphlets
  • WordPress website builder to create the cite
  • Timeline JS to make the timeline of all the philosophers, student publications, and the significant historical events related to the periods.
  • Storymaps JS to annotate images and potential student texts
  • Soundcite to add audio




Week 2: Project charter due Friday morning

  • First Draft of Philosopher Bios – beginning of week
  • First Draft of term definitions – middle of week
  • Look at Gettysburg history – end of week
  • Spend time in Special Collections figuring out student works – end of week


Week 3: wireframe due on Friday

  • Read student works and analyze – all week
  • Create timeline on paper of the events, student works, and philosophers
    • If you have time begin to make it on Timeline JS


Week 4:

  • Wrap up research
  • Make sure everything is organized well in order to put it online
  • Begin playing with website seriously to understand how everything works easier to make week 5 easier.


Week 5: Visualization Due Friday

  • Begin to take written notes and content and put it in online format – all week
  • Write an about the project page – end of week


Week 6: Project Draft due Friday

  • Continue to create website. Focus on visuals and embedding all the proper elements
  • Finish writing any pages such as the where are we now page if that’s not done
  • Get all bibliographical information in order


Week 7: Final Project due Friday

  • Work throughout the week to fix anything that needs fixing
  • Finalize everything, make sure everything works well
  • Test the website out on multiple users


Week 8: Presentation week!

  • Practice the presentation
  • Write out notes of what you will say
  • Practice in front of people and get them to ask tough questions
  • Make sure everything is lovely


End of Life/Future Plans

I would like this project to be largely complete by the end of eight weeks but I would like to be able to have the option to go in and keep adding if that’s something that I feel it needs. Because there are so many student works, it would be easy to just keep going and going and analyzing each one. If possible, it would be interesting to find a way for other students to add to this cite if they are interested themselves in reading and analyzing the student works because I known I won’t be able to do it all on my own. It can live on the Gettysburg website and I will send the link out to professors and teachers who I know